Prince - Hydro, Glasgow, Thu 22 May 2014
His Purple Majesty brings an embarrassment of riches to his first Glasgow show in nearly two decades
It's been a long time coming and there's a buzz of nervous energy rippling through the audience packed into the Hydro. Even with tickets clutched in hand it’s hard to believe he’s really, genuinely here. Prince hadn't played Glasgow in 19 years; then, out of nowhere, there was a surprise announcement that he'd be heading north with his female backing band, 3rdEyeGirl, as part of his Hit and Run Tour Part II. Unsurprisingly, tickets sold out in seconds. Security and Prince’s own crew stalk through the crowd enforcing the strict ‘no photography’ rule before he’s even arrived on stage. Then his unmistakable voice screams out 'Let's go Glasgow!' over the PA and the curtain drops to reveal His Purple Majesty resplendent in a kaftan-and-afro combo.
Who else could open with back-to-back tracks of the quality of 'Let's Go Crazy', 'Take Me With U', 'Raspberry Beret' and 'U Got the Look'? When he hits the electro booty funk of 'Kiss', electricity runs through the capacity crowd. Prince busts some undeniably slick, liquid dance moves that aren’t always matched by the audience members invited on stage. The hits come tumbling; there's an embarrassment of riches. In fact there's almost too much material to cover. There's a shiver down the spine when he launches into 'When Doves Cry' but it's thrown away in a medley alongside the rolling stream of consciousness lyrics of 'Sign 'O' the Times', 'Hot Thing', Forever in My Life' and 'I Would Die For You' rather than given room to fly.
There are some strange choices when the aforementioned tracks are truncated but 'The Love We Make' and ‘Funknroll’ are played in full. The funk is turned up to maximum for a triple bill of 'Controversy', '1999' and 'Little Red Corvette' but the delicate 'Nothing Compares 2 U' just doesn't work here as a rowdy singalong. There's a spellbindingly intricate guitar solo during 'Guitar' and as the piano opening of 'Purple Rain' rings through the venue it's a heart stopping moment. It swirls and soars, extended again and again after several false finishes. Prince doesn't seem to want to leave the stage, and 'Play That Funky Music' and 'Live It Up' are played under the full glare of the house lights before he returns for yet another encore based around the dance beats of 'Housequake'.
It seems almost churlish to complain about a show of this quality but there's a certain frustration when you only hear snatches of tracks like 'Diamonds and Pearls' and 'Alphabet Street'; then again with so much ground to cover it's almost inevitable that sacrifices must be made.